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Society must keep up with driverless car tech: Google

Brave new world: Google’s Driverless electric car experiment is paving the way for vehicles requiring no human input – but humans are the limiting factor as they are slow to accept change.

Google says society must accept pace of tech change as driverless cars near

7 Nov 2014

GOOGLE head of automotive Hugh Dickerson has highlighted how the ever accelerating pace of technological advancement must be considered as the prospect of a production driverless car draws closer.

Social and legislative hurdles may prove harder to overcome than technological ones in terms of bringing autonomous vehicles to market and Mr Dickerson described society as “at the early stages” of accepting the idea, according to Just Auto

“It is still dawn,” he told an open forum organised by the British Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) earlier this week. “The vast majority of people are not yet connected.”“Driverless cars can’t get tired, I can,” Mr Dickerson told his audience of auto manufacturers and component suppliers.

“The US spends more per mile on the cost of accidents than it does on fuel. We would like to make the world a safer place from a driving perspective.”

Using the statistic that 28 per cent of children aged three and four already use a tablet computer, Mr Dickerson said technology is here to stay and will keep accelerating “whether we like it or don’t like it”.

“It took 50 years to reach 50 million users for the telephone – it took four years for the internet … the consumer has changed for ever as to how they interact – 75 per cent of online shoppers want a personalised shopping experience.”

In May Google announced it has started building 100 self-driving electric cars – that will come without a steering wheel or pedals – to test its autonomous driving technology.

The Californian technology giant has already racked up more than a million autonomous kilometres on public roads since trials began in 2009 using modified Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

“Today is the slowest day of technological change for the rest of your life,” Mr Dickerson said. “It is only going to get quicker.”

He described companies like electric car brand Tesla and the car sharing schemes that are expected to have 26 million users by 2020 as “disruptors in the automotive industry” and urged his audience to “heed taking risks, make better use of data, speed up”.

“There are undoubtedly disruptors in the supplier space as well … we just want to keep pushing the technology and get as many hundreds of thousands of kilometres under the belt as possible. It is moving quickly.”

In Australia there are several research initiatives taking place with goals to produce self-driving vehicles, such as partnership between the University of New South Wales and car-sharing company GoGet announced in February this year at the GeoNext technology conference in Sydney.

The British government recently gave the green light to autonomous vehicle testing on UK roads from next year, in a trial that will last between 18 months and three years.

A number of global car brands are developing autonomous car technology including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

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